The Benefits of Ghost Kitchen Catering
When COVID-19 forced restaurants to close and consumers to stay home, third-party delivery services became a mainstay that kept the food and dining industry afloat. Likewise, it became a staple for hungry customers faced with stay-at-home/shelter-in-place mandates. But on the flip side laid exorbitant service fees for restaurants and a shortage of options for customers living outside major cities. To combat rising costs and consumer demand, many small-business owners have become creative. How so? Ghost kitchen catering. By 2027, the value of ghost kitchens will reach nearly $72 billion and $1 trillion by 2030. But what are ghost kitchens? For you— as someone who wants to host a catered event— what can they deliver for you? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Ghost Kitchens?
Ghost kitchens take on many names— like mobile kitchens, virtual kitchens, or dark kitchens— but the concept is the same: they’re non-customer-facing restaurants dedicated solely to delivery service. What does that mean in layman’s terms? They allow restaurants to operate without offering dine-in services, which reduces financial costs and physical footprint. For businesses, eschewing dining rooms and pivoting to a delivery-only model can considerably increase the efficiency of its operations. Ghost kitchens take on different iterations also— from commissary kitchens to food trucks and beyond.
Moreover, they’re not a fad, thanks in large part to how much they reduce overhead costs. Some of the largest QSR brands in the world are establishing ghost kitchens like McDonald’s, Inspire Brands (which owns Dunkin’ and Sonic Drive-In, among others), and more. In less than a year, ghost kitchens have gone from novelty to industry anchor.
The Pros of Ghost Kitchen Catering
1. The Costs Are Less
For you— the consumer— you’re thinking that your catering costs are related only to food and staffing, right? Not so. If your vendor operates a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, expenses like rent, permits, licenses, equipment, and furniture bleed into secondary services: like catering. To a certain extent, you may be partially footing the bill for an entire business, opposed to a singular service. Ghost kitchen catering is simply cheaper to outfit than a full-service restaurant. There are no expenses for exterior design, interior furnishings, or additional staff to service dine-in customers. What vendors save on those costs translates to savings for your catered event.
2. They’re Flexible and Adaptable
Because of their minimalist approach and— often— their mobility, ghost kitchens are highly adaptable to last-minute changes, additions, and/or subtractions. That allows them to meet ever-changing dining demands and needs. As an event catering planner— that’s good news for you. Because you don’t have to worry about set schedules that come with renting a catering or banquet hall, ghost kitchens can better accommodate when and where you want to host your event. Plus, they house professional-grade kitchens, meaning they can adapt to your location without sacrificing food that’s fresh and cooked to order.
3. They’re Private Kitchens— Just for You
When planning an event, it’s hard not to love catering. You have a set location and an experienced kitchen and wait staff at your disposal, leaving you free to mingle and enjoy your party. But let’s be frank: in 2021, buffets are a thing of the past. While the pandemic has forced the catering industry to rethink feeding crowds, ghost kitchens have perfected the art of preparing, cooking, and serving five-star meals (without heated lamps and warming trays). Food truck catering, in particular, serves as a private kitchen just for you and your event. With access to top-of-the-line equipment and plenty of storage space, vendors can craft complex (and delicious) menus with ease, speed, and efficiency.
4. Ghost Kitchens Are Eco-Conscious
More and more, people are focusing attention on combating climate change, especially in the pandemic’s wake. In a survey last summer, some 70% of respondents said they are concerned with the state of our environment. Moreover, Millennials and Gen-Zers are likelier to support (and buy from) eco-conscious brands. In turn, ghost kitchens’ catering operations are inherently smaller and leave a smaller environmental footprint than full-scale customer-facing concepts. Because ghost kitchens remove in-house operations, like fewer utensils and dishes to wash, their increased sustainability is desirable to sustainably-minded consumers.
Explore the Benefits of Ghost Kitchen Catering for Your Next Event
In the face of a worldwide pandemic, ghost kitchens have shown the resiliency of the restaurant industry. Similarly, in the form of food trucks, they have existed for decades, and, in that time, they have mastered mobile catering. They encourage customers to plan creative events on their terms, where they can choose the best location, the best time and date, and the menu that’s right for them. Their streamlined efficiency empowers customers in need of stellar catering to think big, with the peace of mind that they can host a successful and memorable event.
Get twisted and incorporate a pretzel food truck into your next event. Big or bite-sized, savory or sweet, pretzels are the obvious choice when you need a fast, fresh, and no-frills catered snack.
When catering an event, it’s always a good idea to offer meals that everyone can enjoy. Let’s hit the road and take a look at some of New York City’s finest vegan and vegetarian food trucks that are worth chasing after.
Food trucks, food carts, food trailers— each of these mobile catering platforms have their advantages. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, so you can find the perfect partner to cater your event!